By Jay Cook |
HOLMDEL – Sixty percent of participating voters checked the “yes” box on Tuesday afternoon to approve the Holmdel 2020 Initiative, a $40.3 million school project designed to upgrade the district’s four schools with 21st century amenities and academic offerings.
“Everybody’s really, really excited and energized,” Holmdel Schools Board of Education president Joseph Hammer said Wednesday morning. “We can’t wait to really get into some of these things.”
Since March, the Holmdel school district had been pushing the Holmdel 2020 Initiative as a necessary upgrade to the district’s four public schools – Village School, Indian Hill School, William R. Satz School, and Holmdel High School. The project will focus on academic, athletic and infrastructure improvements.
Unofficial results tabulated by the Monmouth County Clerk’s Office showed the final count as 1,020 – 675, in favor of the project. Nine of the 10 voting districts in Holmdel had a majority approval. Of the 12,747 registered voters in town, 13 percent came out to vote.
Hammer said the voter turnout was greater than anticipated, between 700 and 800 voters was his guess.
“Considering it was a Tuesday, on an off-election day, in a four-hour window that had to be done after school, I think it was actually higher than expected,” he said.
For Robert McGarry, Ed.D, Holmdel Schools superintendent, it’s a noteworthy accomplishment. McGarry moved into the superintendent’s office on July 1, 2016, and over a year later has provided his new school district with the means for a major overhaul.
“I am pleased that the community agreed with our position that our community can’t allow aging and outdated facilities to place limits on what our students are capable of achieving,” he said in a statement.
Nearly 90 percent of the $40.3 million is dedicated to Satz School, grades seven and eight, and Holmdel High School, grades nine through 12.
Although acting as separate entities, the two schools are actually connected on adjoining properties on Crawfords Corner Road. Satz School’s front office and main entrance will be moved off to the side of the school and those offices will be turned into an expanded media center. Four new science labs will be introduced through construction and repurposing of existing classrooms. An existing health/music classroom will become space for a new robotics program to be introduced into the curriculum.
At the high school, the TV Production studio will be relocated to a larger space and a former shop classroom will become a graphic arts and engineering lab.
Major renovations to turn existing libraries into fully-functioning media centers at both schools are planned. TVs, private working spaces, collaboration rooms, and lounge areas will all be included.
Village School, housing pre-k through third-grade students, would add onto its full-day kindergarten service by providing three new classrooms. A computer classroom would change into a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) lab, and another classroom would become an art room.
Both Village School and Indian Hill School, grades four through six, will replace interior doors, security cameras, old heating and venting units with HVAC systems, and upgrade public address systems, as well as curbing and walkway repairs.
Athletic upgrades are also are set at the high school. Roggy Field will receive new turf and new track surfacing, as well as ADA compliant seating and modern lighting. The existing tennis courts will become grassy areas, and the tennis area will move to the main athletic complex behind the school.
Because Holmdel 2020 was approved in a special referendum, the school district has $9.5 million in state debt service aid available to help lessen the burden on taxpayers.
A Holmdel resident with an average assessed home value of $657,228, would see a $159 tax increase, according to the district.
In a statement, McGarry said the school district will work in the coming months to finalize a detailed timeline for the various projects. Construction is expected to begin when the schools close for summer vacation in June 2018. McGarry anticipates all work to be complete by the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.
This article was first published in the Sept. 28 – Oct. 5, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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